The U.S. Justice Department has brought new charges against four former Blackwater Worldwide security guards for 2007 shootings in Baghdad that strained U.S.-Iraq relations.
The four were charged Thursday with various counts of voluntary manslaughter, attempt to commit manslaughter and the use of a firearm in a crime of violence.
Retired U.S. Marines Dustin Heard and Evan Liberty, and Army veterans Nick Slatten and Paul Slough, are accused of opening fire in Nisoor Square on September 16, 2007, while working for the private security company Blackwater.
Fourteen Iraqi civilians were killed and 18 others injured in what the prosecutors say was an unprovoked attack. Defense lawyers argue their clients are innocent men who were ambushed by Iraqi insurgents.
The guards faced nearly identical charges in 2008 but the case was thrown out a year later. The dismissal outraged many Iraqis, who said it showed Americans consider themselves above the law.
The case was reinstated in 2011. The prosecutors have dropped their case against a fifth guard. A sixth member of the team has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.